High-Intensity Exercises To Get Your Heart Rate Up
There is much to be said for a high-intensity full-body workout that amps the heart rate right up and leaves you in a pool of sweat on the floor (sometimes encouraging a few curse words!). But the main take away is, they’re a sure-fire way to work as many parts of your body as possible, and quickly.
For those of us with busy lives, who need to cram in short sessions where we can, high-intensity workouts are a great way to get a lot of work done in a short amount of time. This is the essence of my FIERCE program, so it’s no surprise I am a big advocate for efficiency.
Working at high intensity (heart rate at 70–100 per cent) is beneficial for so many aspects of your training, including fat loss, improving stamina and recovery, and increasing cardiovascular fitness levels.
Add these heart-pumping exercises to your training
I’ve pulled together five full-body exercises to integrate into your workouts to get that heart rate up to optimal levels so you can feel the burn.
These are all high intensity, so you may want to just choose one or two to integrate into each workout, including some lower intensity or muscle group-specific movements in between, to try to avoid total fatigue and injury.
So set up my playlist and give them a go!
Single arm dumbbell snatches:
Slightly technical, but totally worth mastering, to incorporate into your workouts to improve strength, range of motion and cardiovascular fitness.
- Place a dumbbell horizontally on the floor in front of you. I would typically use a 15-17.5kg dumbbell, but choose something that you can move with good technique. Plant both feet on the floor slightly further than shoulder-width apart on either side of the dumbbell.
- Bend at the hips and knees until your upper legs are parallel to the floor, ensuring that your knees remain in line with your toes. Extend your right arm to grasp the dumbbell with an overhand grip (palm facing towards you). This is your starting position.
- Push through the heels of your feet to come to a neutral standing position. At the same time, bend and elevate your elbow to raise the dumbbell to approximately chin height before rotating your elbow around and under the dumbbell.
- Immediately extend your arm overhead so that it is in line with your ear, ensuring that your knees remain ‘soft’ (ensure the dumbbell remains in close contact with your body through this portion of the movement). Extend your hips and knees to come to a neutral standing position.
- Bend your elbow to lower the dumbbell to shoulder height before rotating your elbow around and over the dumbbell. Bend at both the hips and knees and extend your elbow to return to the starting position.
- Switch hands and repeat with your left arm. Continue alternating between right and left for 10-15 reps per arm.
Burpee box jumps:
These are really heart-pumping, and a great addition to your high-intensity workout, improving cardiovascular fitness, agility and balance.
- Plant both feet on the mat shoulder-width apart with a plyometric box in front of you. This is your starting position.
- Bend at both the hips and knees to place your hands on the floor on either side of your feet, ensuring that your spine remains in a neutral position.
- Jump both of your feet backwards so that your legs are completely extended behind you, resting on the balls of your feet. Your body should be in one straight line from your head to your heels. This is called the push-up position.
- Jump both of your feet forwards in between your hands, once again, ensuring that your feet remain shoulder-width apart.
- Push through your heels and extend your legs slightly so that your upper legs are parallel with the floor. Ensure that your back remains within a 45 to 90-degree angle to your hips.
- Propel your body upwards and forwards, drawing your knees into your chest, to land in squat position on top of the box. Ensure that you maintain ‘soft’ knees to prevent injury.
- Step back off the box and return to the starting position. Smash out 20 of these and you’ll be panting in no time.
Barbell squat and press:
Most people shudder when they hear these are on the line-up, and for good reason — they’re tough. These are a full-body movement that will get the muscles and lungs pumping after just a few reps.
- Holding a barbell with an overhand grip (palms facing towards your body) directly in front of your body, plant both feet on the floor slightly further than shoulder-width apart. Bring the barbell forward and upwards into your chest. Your palms should now be facing away from your body. This is your starting position. I would usually use 30-40kg for these.
- Looking straight ahead, bend at both the hips and knees, ensuring that your knees remain in line with your toes.
- Continue bending your knees until your upper legs are parallel with the floor. Ensure that your back remains between a 45- to 90- degree angle to your hips.
- Push through your heels and extend your knees to return to the starting position.
- In one smooth movement, extend your elbows to press the barbell directly above your head. Your arms should be in line with your ears on either side of your head.
- Bend your elbows to lower back into the initial squat position. Repeat. Try sets of 10-15 reps.
Nothing cranks up the lactic acid like a solid sled push!
- Safely set a sled on one end of the sled track and load it with the desired amount of weight plates.
- Place both hands on the upright poles of the sled and take a large step back with your preferred leg. With your arms extended, lean your torso forward, ensuring that you maintain a neutral spine. This is your starting position.
- Drive off your back leg and continue to take large steps forward to push the sled to the end of the track, breathing deeply throughout. Ensure that you keep your arms extended and maintain a neutral spine.
- Once you reach the end of the track, release your hands and run around to the opposite side of the sled. Hold onto the horizontal poles of the sled with an overhand grip (palms facing down) and take a large step back with your preferred leg and push the sled back to the other end the same way you came down.
- Once you reach the end of the track, release your hands and run around the sled to return to the starting position. Try six laps of this to get the lungs going.
Double arm slams:
Sure to get those arms and shoulders pumping!
- Loop a battle rope around a secure structure, extend the rope ensuring that the length of the rope is even on either side.
- Holding the ends of the rope in each hand plant your feet shoulder-width apart, extend and lower your arms to hold the rope directly in front of your body. This is your starting position.
- Bend your knees slightly. Quickly extend your knees, at the same time raise your arms and slightly bend your elbows to lift the ends of the rope to head height.
- Bend at the hips and knees, ensuring to maintain a neutral spine. At the same time, slam the rope down by pulling your arms toward the floor and extending your elbows.
- Extend your hips and knees to return to the starting position. Try this for 30–60 seconds a round, keeping form the whole time.
Give them a go – if you’re game!
Now you’ve got another five exercises in your toolkit, try to integrate one or two into your next workout. As with any movements, form is crucial, so keep that your top priority.
Brace yourself for a heart-pumping, lung-busting workout with these gems, but they’re a whole lot of fun. I promise you’ll thank me later. Got any favourites? Tell me in the comments below.
And if you’re still on the fence about whether this style of workout is for you, feel the FIERCE and give it a go!
* Results from FIERCE may vary. Strict adherence to the program is required for best results.